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Diversity drives population growth

As Duluthians, we have reason, well, actually, two reasons to celebrate. First, we can celebrate that Duluth has reversed the three-decade decline in population it experienced from 1970 to 2000. Second, let's celebrate that this stabilization of our population is due, in large part, to an expansion of our minority population.

Duluth's growth parallels that of other Minnesota metropolitan communities which have also grown as a result of their increasing minority populations. They, too, have reason to celebrate.

According to the 2015 census data, 10 percent of Duluthians are identified as non-white. 9,768 of our 86,265 citizens are American Indian, Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian.

Community leaders are heralding the good news that an abundance of new jobs are being created in our Zenith City. This opportunity for employment is bringing new coworkers to our workplaces and new neighbors to our neighborhoods.

Duluth is concurrently drawing more people to our community because of our expanding reputation as a place of increasing cultural opportunities. We would be wise to cherish and protect this expanding reputation as much as we do the other recent recognitions and affirmations received by Duluth.

The leadership of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce is embracing our increasingly diverse community. We are striving to ensure that our business community is one in which persons of different colors, races, religions, sexual preferences and genders are encouraged to achieve at their highest level. As our community becomes increasingly varied, we are wise to recognize and embrace the power of this diversity.

The Chamber understands that a community goal must be to position businesses for success in a multicultural business environment. Starting a business is a challenging endeavor. The brave souls who try it will testify that it involves overcoming many obstacles. We simply cannot make it any more difficult for our brothers and sisters of mixed cultural backgrounds and diverse preferences.

Consider for a moment the vibrancy that will enrich our community if all persons, regardless of background, are encouraged to fulfill their greatest potential. It is a goal we need to work together to attain. If Duluth is going to reap the harvest from the seeds planted so optimistically in recent years, we must first work to have every voice heard, every idea considered and every talent employed.

These are exciting times in our beloved community. Duluth is changing for the better. We are called to unite in ensuring that minority-owned and operated businesses are welcomed and supported in Duluth. If we are successful in accomplishing this, we will add to our collective quality of life.

We will be architects in building, here in Duluth, what President Lyndon Baines Johnson identified as, "The Great Society" and what Martin Luther King Jr. called, 'The Beloved Community.'"

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751 or dross@duluthchamber.com.

David Ross

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751.

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